Tim Leeds/Havre Daily Newsfirstname.lastname@example.org
The Montana Cooperative Development Center is holding a meeting in Havre tonight to discuss forming an art cooperative.
"Ever since I joined the (Havre) Art Association, people have said we need an art gallery," said Kris Shaw, who helped organize a meeting last week to determine whether there is local interest in marketing art. As a result of that meeting, artists contacted the co-op development center.
The center's executive director, Ty Duncan, will facilitate tonight's discussion.
"It's going to be a real information sharing and gathering meeting," he said.
Craig Erickson, a community planner with Bear Paw Development Corp., said many artists could benefit from a cooperative.
"We have a very large artistic community in Havre and the Hi-Line," he said. "If a cooperative would help these people market their product and make more money, that would be great."
Duncan said a cooperative also could develop a Web site to market local art outside of the area.
Shaw said she and Mary Nault recently started looking into forming a cooperative, similar to an artists' co-op she was involved with in Bozeman. About 14 people attended the July 26 meeting, and about 10 more said they were interested but couldn't attend, she said.
She said the project could provide a major economic benefit for the area.
"We would like to have the entire Hi-Line art area involved," she said.
Cheryl MacArthur, program manager for MCDC, said a co-op could help many artisans who don't have enough sales to operate their own businesses.
"As a region we can pull together and have a real benefit," she said.
Duncan said that once he knows more about how many people are interested and what they would want to achieve, MCDC will look at other art cooperatives around the country, including a cooperative art gallery in Great Falls, to provide a model for a Havre-based cooperative.
A possible location for the gallery could be the Atrium Mall, which is owned by Kris Shaw's husband, Dave Shaw, Duncan said. Having an art gallery there could draw people passing through Havre to the mall, he said.
"If people are spending money in the community, that's a way for those dollars to stay in the community and multiply," he said.
The meeting starts at 6 p.m. at Bear Paw Development, 48 Second Ave. in Havre. Call Erickson at 265-9226, ext. 27, for more information.